Article Text

PDF
Climate change matters
  1. Cheryl Cox Macpherson
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cheryl Cox Macpherson, Bioethics Department, St George's University School of Medicine, St George's, Grenada, West Indies; ccox{at}sgu.edu

Abstract

One manifestation of climate change is the increasingly severe extreme weather that causes injury, illness and death through heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease and other means. Leading health organisations around the world are responding to the related water and food shortages and volatility of energy and agriculture prices that threaten health and health economics. Environmental and climate ethics highlight the associated challenges to human rights and distributive justice but rarely address health or encompass bioethical methods or analyses. Public health ethics and its broader umbrella, bioethics, remain relatively silent on climate change. Meanwhile global population growth creates more people who aspire to Western lifestyles and unrestrained socioeconomic growth. Fulfilling these aspirations generates more emissions; worsens climate change; and undermines virtues and values that engender appreciation of, and protections for, natural resources. Greater understanding of how virtues and values are evolving in different contexts, and the associated consequences, might nudge the individual and collective priorities that inform public policy toward embracing stewardship and responsibility for environmental resources necessary to health. Instead of neglecting climate change and related policy, public health ethics and bioethics should explore these issues; bring transparency to the tradeoffs that permit emissions to continue at current rates; and offer deeper understanding about what is at stake and what it means to live a good life in today's world.

  • Public Health Ethics
  • Public Policy
  • Health Economics
  • Distributive Justice
  • Population Growth

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.